On the afternoon of Sunday, April 3, twelve years after starting to play clarinet, Ally Szeles K’16 performed four works for her Senior Individualized Project.
“I was wondering if it sounded like Squidward playing it,” Szeles said. “At first I didn’t really like it and my mom made me practice a half hour every day, but once I started sounding good, I wanted to practice on my own and it just kind of grew from there. I love practicing and playing, and it’s a huge stress reliever and I love the sound.”
Szeles’ SIP was inspired by her study abroad experience in Cáceres, Spain. The focus of her SIP was Spanish influences in the music, being able to perform the pieces and arranging the performance herself. She said she picked material that was close to her heart.
The first piece she played was “Hommage á Falla” by Béla Kovács. Szeles feels most personally connected to this piece, as she was born the same year the piece was composed, and it was composed by a Hungarian composer, and her family is Hungarian.
Her second piece was “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” by Lenard Bernstein. Although the composer is American, the piece has Cuban influences from the Key West. Her piano accompanist, Susan Lawrence, joined her for this and the remaining piece.
Her third piece was the “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” by Carlos Guastavino, and her fourth was “Capricho Pintoresco Op. 41” by Miguel Yuste, a commonly taught piece for clarinets in Spain.
Szeles did not start as a music major. Hailing from a family of science majors, Szeles began at Kalamazoo College on the pre-med track, and after many changes, wound up majoring in music when she realized sciences were not something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She said she was much happier once she was majoring in music.
Last December, Szeles found out she had carpal tunnel from playing too much & from stretching her hands for the piano. This limited her previous practice times of 3-7 hours a day to half an hour every other day or every two days.
“I had to finagle ways to play with keeping good form. I blame piano for the injuries from stretching my hands.” Szeles said it was “probably clarinet that exaggerated it, but piano that started it.”
Szeles had to prepare for six graduate school auditions and plan out when she could practice.
Szeles has been accepted to graduate school.
“I would ideally love to be teaching my own studio of clarinets,” Szeles said. “I love teaching kids and beginners. I would love to be auditioning [for] different musical groups. I wouldn’t mind doing something [as a] volunteer again like the Kids in Tune program in Kalamazoo. I don’t know where I’ll end up yet.”
Szeles has volunteered for a program in Kalamazoo called Kids in Tune, a program from the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra that offers music lessons to those who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
“Kids to have a place to take out stressful emotions,” Szeles said.
“Music is a huge stress reliever for me, and everybody enjoys music,” she said. “I don’t know what we’d do without music, honestly. Everything would be so much more boring. It’s a wonderful activity to do with other people.”